Depression and Possible Links to Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Friday, June 11th, 2010, 12:40 pm

Possible  links between depression and 0bstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have been studied for many years.  According to research published in the Journal Chest and the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine in 2007 and 2005 by Dr. Daniel Schwartz  treating OSA definitely improved depressive symptoms, sometimes dramatically.

“Lack of motivation, lack of interest in daily activities, fatigue and tiredness may be seen by the patient and their physician as depression, but it may be sleep apnea,” said Schwartz who is medical director of University Community Hospital in Tampa.

More recently, Dr. Stacey Ishaman and a team at Johns Hopkins University compared patients diagnosed with OSA and a group of patients without OSA.  Significantly more patients in the Obstructive Sleep Apnea group met the diagnostic requirements for depression versus the non-OSA patients.  The research also noted that the severity of the sleep apnea was a very good predictor of the severity of the patients’ depression.

What does this mean for you? Estimates show as many as 12 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea but up to 90% don’t know they have it.  If you suffer from extreme fatigue even after a full-nights sleep you may be part of this statistic.  The lethargy and fatigue are among the many symptoms of OSA that match symptoms of depression.

Many patients avoid getting a diagnosis of their possible sleep disorders because they have heard horror stories about the most common treatment, the CPAP machine.  While CPAP treatment is currently considered the first line therapy for OSA most patients have trouble continuing the therapy in the long term.  Sleeping with the masks and tubing is problematic for many, others find the apparatus leads to sore throats, puffy eyes and sinus problems.  There is another treatment option for mild to moderate sleep apnea.

Oral Appliance therapy is highly effective and avoids the discomfort of sleeping with the CPAP machine.  Oral appliances are suggested for patients who have mild to moderate sleep apnea and for those patients with more severe apnea who cannot tolerate CPAP therapy.

In Northeastern Georgia, your experienced Dental Sleep Medicine practitioner is Dr. Joseph Wilbanks.  Please contact us today at  706-886-9439 to arrange a consultation with Dr. Wilbanks to discuss your obstructive sleep apnea treatment options.

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Category: Dental Sleep Medicine, oral health

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